A celebration of colours, this Asian Vermicelli Salad delivers on flavour and presentation. Mixed through with aromatic Vietnamese mint, crunchy sugar snap peas and pungent fish sauce, this salad will soon become a dinner party favourite!
Why I Love Rainbow Vermicelli Salad with Soy Dressing
Have you ever been in a situation where you have walked or driven past something for the longest time and you never noticed something was there?
I recently had to go to an outdoor adventure store, which mind you I have many times, and as I drove into the compound, I noticed an Indian grocer.
Let me tell you it wasn’t small or hidden away. In fact, quite big and prominent and located near the main road. I later found out it had been there for 18 months. Not sure how I missed it!
I had time so I decided to venture in and OMG…..I was in heaven! It so happened I walked in a week before Diwali so you can imagine all the beautiful decorations and fresh flowers they had!
This supermarket also sold food so the smell alone made me ravenous. Despite not being hungry at all, I couldn’t resist a serving of dal makhana and eggplant bharta with rice.
After that I walked up and down the aisles and there is no better feeling than looking at ingredients you know nothing about! I was fascinated and I reckon I weaved through those aisles about 4 times each.
I walked away with a hefty loot including a bag of coloured vermicelli. Naturally I couldn’t wait to try it out and create this Asian noodle salad recipe.
What is Vietnamese Mint?
Contrary to popular belief, Vietnamese mint is not part of the mint family but it does resemble mint because of its appearance, fragrance and also in its growing conditions.
It is called the Vietnamese mint because even though it grows predominantly in all of Southeast Asia, it grows naturally in Vietnam and in abundance.
Also known as Vietnamese coriander, the Vietnamese mint leaves are long and pointy. It is green with dark inner markings and a spine with a red tinge. It is peppery in tates and known to have a hot minty flavour.
Where to Buy Vietnamese Mint?
You can buy Vietnamese mint from your Asian grocers although more and more mainstream supermarkets are stocking them.
What Are Some Dishes That Use Vietnamese Mint?
Vietnamese mint is used a lot in rice paper rolls as well as in Vietnamese salads.
Some other famous dishes include bun cha, a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle as well as the Hue beef noodle soup.
My mother uses Vietnamese mint in a local Malaysian dish called Assam Laksa. We call it daun kesum. Which is a tamarind fish based soup with noodles, cucumber and pineapple. And can I say, no one, and I mean no one, can make an Assam Laksa quite like my mum!
Difference Between Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is also called rice wine vinegar and as such causes confusion between rice wine vinegar and rice wine. In fact, they are 2 completely different things.
Both these products are made from glutinous rice of which it is transformed into alcohol by adding yeast into its fermentation process. Its overall alcohol content is fairly low and the rice wine has a slightly sweeter taste.
Some of the more popular rice wines include Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine), mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine), and sake (dry Japanese rice wine). Both Shaoxing and mirin are used for cooking on a regular basis.
If you add bacteria to the fermentation process, it will turn the alcohol into acid. And this is how you get rice wine vinegar.
Compare this to normal white distilled vinegar, rice wine vinegar is less acidic, milder and more delicate. Hence a popular vinegar to use in salad dressing recipes.
When looking for the rice wine vinegar in the Asian section of your supermarket, just ensure you see the word vinegar and you can’t go wrong! But even if you do end up with rice wine instead, just enjoy a glass or two!
How to Make Rainbow Vermicelli Salad with Soy Dressing
How to Prepare the Soy Sauce Dressing
For this recipe we’ll be making the dressing first as we need to let the garlic do its work and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Crush one garlic clove to release its pungent aromas.
Mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli flakes and the juice of ¼ lime. Then add the crushed garlic to the dressing and leave it for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can always make this ahead of time and leave it overnight.
How to Prepare the Vegetables
Let’s start with the small carrot. Peel the carrot and then using a shredding peeler or mandolin, shred the carrots into nice long strands.
For the bean sprouts, snap off the roots so they are not so unsightly. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, blanch for 30 seconds, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. You can most certainly eat this raw too if you wish.
Moving onto the sugar snap peas, remove the string by using a small knife. Grasp the curly end, pull it downward along the pod to remove the string. Do this for both the top and underside of the peas.
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, blanch for 1 minute, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
How to Cook Coloured Vermicelli
Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to the boil. Add the coloured vermicelli for 5-6 minutes.
After it’s cooked, rinse under cold running water and set aside to dry. Remove as much water as possible by tapping the colander against the sink. I then toss the vermicelli and tap the colander again to rid more of its water.
The vermicelli will get a bit starchy and will appear as one big clump. Don’t worry about it as once we add the dressing, it will loosen it up.
And if you’re wondering, the colours didn’t really fade after boiling. A very slight loss of vibrancy but the colours were still very prominent.
How to Prepare the Herbs
Roughly chop the top end of the coriander to yield 1 cup.
With the Vietnamese mint, pick the leaves off the stem. We want them in tact so that you can lay them flat and pile the leaves one on top of the other.
With a sharp knife, slice the leaves very thinly into long strands. Cut enough to yield ⅓ cup.
How to Assemble Vermicelli Salad
Mix all the ingredients, except the fried shallots, together.
Add the dressing and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a piled heap, place the salad on a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with fried shallots and serve.
I love our salad inspiration process. This salad recipe came about because I needed to buy a new pair of hiking boots for my daughter and instead, I came home with lentils, paneer, garam masala, coloured vermicelli and a full belly!
I was itching to give the vermicelli noodles a try and was thrilled that it worked out so well. Oh….in the end I forgot to get the boots (facepalm!)
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Rainbow Vermicelli Salad with Soy Dressing
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
Salad Dressing (do this first)
- Peel 1 garlic clove and crush it.
- Mix the rest of the dressing ingredients together and add garlic clove.
- Let the garlic marinate in the dressing for 30 minutes.
- Peel the small carrot and shred with shredding peeler or mandolin.
- Snap off the roots of the bean sprouts. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, blanch for 30 seconds, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Remove the string off the sugar snap peas. Using a small knife, grasp the curly end, pull it downward along the pod to remove the string. Do this for both the top and underside of the peas. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, blanch for 1 minute, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil. Add the coloured vermicelli for 5-6 minutes. Wash under cold running water and set aside to dry. Remove as much water as possible.
- Roughly chop coriander to yield 1 cup.
- Pick the Vietnamese mint leaves off the stalk. Lay them flat on top of on another and slice into long strips to yield ⅓ cup.
- Mix all the ingredients, except the fried shallots together.
- Add the dressing and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a piled heap, place the salad on a serving bowl or platter.
- Garnish with fried shallots and serve.
- You can find coloured vermicelli in Indian grocers. Otherwise, any vermicelli will be fine. Normal vermicelli however is quite long so cut them up before tossing so it’s easier to eat.
- You can substitute sugar snap peas with snow peas or green beans.
- Buy the peanuts already roasted so you don’t have to do it yourself. Use raw peanuts for a healthier version.
- Buy fried shallots already made from the Asian grocer.
- Use more or less of the chilli flakes to adjust or even eliminate the heat level.
- Replace soy sauce with tamari to make this recipe gluten free.
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